A Celebration of Ozarks Literature will be held Oct. 23-25 at Missouri Southern.

The event – presented by the MSSU Department of English & Philosophy and the Harry and Faydell Preble Fund – will kick off with “Ozarks Streams in Poetry, Painting and Song” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, in the Ballroom of Billingsly Student Center.

Poet Ken Hada will be joined by his brother, watercolor artist Duane Hada, and his son, guitarist Kenny Hada, for this unique presentation. As Ken offers a reading of his Ozarks-themed poetry, Duane will paint an original watercolor of an Ozarks location projected onscreen for the audience to witness. Kenny will accompany them on guitar with his original compositions.

"The River White" features poetry by Ken Hada paired with works created by his brother, watercolor artist Duane Hada.

“The River White” features poetry by Ken Hada paired with works created by his brother, watercolor artist Duane Hada.

“A few years ago, I gave a reading at the Southwest Popular Culture Conference and Ken happened to be in the audience,” said Dr. Joey Brown, who is coordinating the event. “He invited me to his festival (the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival in Ada, Okla.) We hit it off and I kept him in mind, thinking that if we could find the right way to bring him to campus, the students would like him.”

The fall semester marks the first time the English Department has offered a course focusing on writers who come from the Ozarks.

“When I started doing reading and research for the class, it occurred to me that this event could be a way to get students excited about writing,” said Brown. “A lot of times, students who grew up in small towns think they can’t do it. This is a way to show them it does happen. And not only does it happen, here’s a group of people who write about the places where you grew up and things that you know.”

The Student Creative Writing Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 25, in the House of Lords in Billingsly Student Center.

Missouri Southern students will read original works – including poetry, essays and short stories.

“It’s all about encouraging students and helping them to build confidence,” said Brown.

Visiting writer Steve Rucker, 2007’s Outstanding English Major, will be the featured speaker. Rucker – a writer, teacher and co-founder of River Pretty, a regional writers retreat in Springfield – will share what it means to “write where you are.”

Students have also been invited to submit their works of creative writing for “The Ozarks: A One-Page Gallery.” The works will be displayed for the remainder of the fall semester in an art gallery-style display, and more submissions may be added to it, said Brown.